Currently viewing the tag: “Iranian”

The Christian Broadcasting Network’s Erick Stackelbeck reports that “New evidence has emerged that the Iranian government sees the current unrest in the Middle East as a signal that the Mahdi-or Islamic messiah-is about to appear”:

CBN News has obtained a never-before-seen video produced by the Iranian regime that says all the signs are moving into place — and that Iran will soon help usher in the end times.

While the revolutionary movements gripping the Middle East have created uncertainty throughout the region, the video shows that the Iranian regime believes the chaos is divine proof that their ultimate victory is at hand.

But according to Israeli Iran analyst Meir Javedanfar, who has seen the the never-before-seen video, it actually shows no such thing. Javedanfar — who wrote a biography of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which he devoted an entire chapter to beliefs about the Mahdi — said via email that the video “is so inaccurate in its contents and predictions that it has raised the ire of the senior clergy at the Bright Futures Institute, which specializes in all matters relating to the issue of the hidden Imam, and is the highest religious authority in Iran with regards to this matter”:

According to an article in the Tehran based Tabnak, which is owned by Mohsen Rezai, the former head of the Revolutionary Guards, Hojjatolislam Javad Jaafri, a member of the board of the Bright Future institute called the movie a “deviation” and asked for its makers to be confronted by the law.

In Iran, predictions about the Mahdi’s imminent return are not in short supply. Some con men do it to make a quick buck, others do it for political purposes, such as members of the Basij. None have religious standing, nor do they have an impact on the decision making of the Supreme Leader who has the final say on all matters, because he is not a messianic.

The video “seems to have been produced by Ahmadinejad’s hardline Basiji supporters, and its biggest goal is to discredit the opposition which consists of Mousavi, Karroubi and Rafsanjani,” concluded Javedanfar. “It’s a political video. It has little religious substance.”

Javedanfar’s comments about the absence of messianic beliefs driving Iranian policy also concur with the analysis of Mehdi Khalaji, an Iran analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who spent years studying Shia theology in the Iranian seminary city of Qom. In a 2008 report entitled “Apocalyptic Politics: On the Rationality of Iranian Policy,” Khalaji wrote that there is no evidence that Iranian strategy is guided by a desire to hasten the Mahdi’s return, and that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is much more concerned with the here and now:

Not one of [Khamenei’s] speeches refers to any apocalyptic sign or reveals any special eagerness for the return of the Hidden Imam. As the theory of the guardianship of the jurist requires, the most significant task of the Supreme Leader is to safeguard the regime, even by overruling Islamic law.

It’s true that some Iranian leaders, most notably President Ahmadinejad, believe in the return of the Mahdi and the End Times. It’s also true that Ahmadinejad, a pious conservative Muslim, lards his speeches with references to the Hidden Imam, so much so that he’s been publicly chastised in the past by leading Iranian clerics, who told him he “would be better off concentrating on Iran’s social problems…than indulging in such mystical rhetoric”:

“If Ahmadinejad wants to say that the hidden imam is supporting the decisions of the government, it is not true,” sniped Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghadam, the spokesman of the conservative Association of Combatant Clerics.

“For sure, the hidden imam does not approve of inflation of 20 percent, the high cost of living and numerous other errors,” he said, according to the Kargozaran daily.

Ali Asghari, a member of the conservative Hezbollah faction in parliament, told the president not to link the management of the country to the imam.

Ahmadinejad would do better to worry about social problems like inflation … and other terrestrial affairs,” Etemad Melli daily quoted him as saying.

As for the video “evidence” that Iran’s leaders are itching to trigger the apocalypse, it seems that what we have is here is a work of intra-Iranian factional propaganda produced by an Iranian version of Glenn Beck or Frank Gaffney, which has already been roundly criticized in Iran by far more authoritative scholars and clerics, but is now being peddled to credulous Americans as a secret look into the minds of the madmen who run Iran. Iran certainly represents a challenge for U.S. interests and allies in the region, but promoting this sort of hysterical nonsense actually detracts from our ability to effectively meet that challenge.

It’s enormously amusing, of course, that this story should originate with CBN News, of all places. Elsewhere on CBN’s website, CBN founder Pat Robertson answers your questions about the End Times, which he, like other clerics John Hagee and Franklin Graham, has been scheduling for years.

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By Barry Rubin

At the moment in history when people are not just rebelling in the Middle East but when the opposition movements in Iran and Syria are at a high point, the fact that the U.S. government is standing by and not only doing nothing but virtually saying nothing.

No, it is even worse. For Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually praised Syrian dictator Bashar al-Asad. She said that “members of Congress” who have gone to Damascus (notably Senator John Kerry who should henceforth be known as an apologist for an oppressive anti-American dictator), have found Bashar al-Asad to be a “reformer.”

Can anyone tell us what reforms he has made? This is a dictator who is Iran’s chief ally; who has actively encouraged and helped terrorists in Iraq to kill Americans; who has tried to launch his own secret nuclear weapons program (stopped only by an Israeli bombing attack); who is chief backer of Hamas in killing Israelis; and who has reimposed Syrian control over Lebanon by using terrorism against Lebanese moderates.

And so, the secretary of state of the United States has praised a dictator who is murdering unarmed demonstrators in the streets of Syria. Mubarak, a U.S. ally and far less oppressive than Syria or Iran, was bad; but Asad, an enemy of the United States and a far more repressive dictator is good?

Note that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates took a much tougher stance on criticizing Syria. I suggested that he was contradicting administration policy in doing so. Unfortunately, that assessment was correct. But good for Gates in taking a good stance. Presumably, he won’t be around much longer. Note that he also correctly said that intervention in Libya wasn’t a vital U.S. interest, again contradicting Clinton and the White House.

Let’s be clear here: Administration officials are (deliberately?) misinterpreting what’s they’re being asked to do. The issue is not a Libyan-style military intervention but rather daily statements and covert aid if appropriate.

NOBODY IS ASKING THE UNITED STATES TO SEND MILITARY FORCES TO SYRIA OR IRAN. We are only asking that U.S. policy give support to oppositionists trying to overthrow repressive dictatorships that are America’s worst enemies in the Middle East and-arguably-in the world.

Is that clear enough?

Remember covert operations? It’s something the United States used to do during the Cold War, sometimes with great effectiveness. Doing something like that on the side of people who want freedom seems a good idea. But won’t the regimes denounce the opposition as American agents? The fear of this seems to be one factor paralyzing the Obama Administration.

Guess what? They’ll do it anyway! Every day and with every means at their disposal.

Yes, I know some claim that in his Iranian NewYear’s message, President Obama did support Iranian oppositionists one time. But my reading of that statement is that it did the exact opposite, skirting the issues to avoid offending the Iranian regime too much.

It is time for the U.S. government to speak up. By making it publicly clear that the United States will not even end the engagement with Syria and start bashing it publicly, it is signalling the Syrian government that it can shoot down as many demonstrators it wants and torture people with no international consequences.

This is against U.S. interests, against democracy and freedom, and against common sense. If President Obama can say that “Mubarak must go” and “Qadhafi must go” why can’t he at least say: “Ahmadinejad must go” and “Asad must go.”

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports,


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New evidence has emerged that the Iranian government sees the current unrest in the Middle East as a signal that the Mahdi-or Islamic messiah-is about to appear.

CBN News has obtained a never-before-seen video produced by the Iranian regime that says all the signs are moving into place-and that Iran will soon help usher in the end times.

While the revolutionary movements gripping the Middle East have created uncertainty throughout the region, the video shows that the Iranian regime believes the chaos is divine proof that their ultimate victory is at hand.

The propaganda video has reportedly been approved at the highest levels of the Iranian government. See my exclusive CBN report below, featuring clips from the Iranian regime-produced video.

Big Peace

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There was something about the Israeli flag that bothered an Iranian diplomat in Prague so much that he demanded that it be removed from a hotel where the Iranian embassy was going to have an event.

There was something about the request that bothered the Arab Israeli manager of the hotel so much that he told the Iranian ambassador to go fly a kite.

Israel flag outside Prague hotel irks Iranians

Iranian diplomat asks hotel to remove Israeli flag ahead of embassy event, but Arab-Israeli manager tells him: ‘If you don’t like it, use another venue’

On Wednesday the Iranian embassy in Prague organized an event at a well-known hotel in the Czech capital. Prior to the event, a senior embassy official was shocked to see an Israeli flag flying high at the head of a line of flags situated near the entrance to the hotel.

The diplomat spoke to the hotel manager and demanded that the Israeli flag be taken down, but the manager, and Arab-Israeli from Nazareth, rejected the request.

“The (Israeli) flag will remain at the front of the hotel always,” the manager told the Iranian official. “If you don’t like it, you are welcome to hold the event at another hotel.”

But this was not an isolated event-there is something about Israeli flags and Iranians:

A few years ago former Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki visited Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Upon his arrival at the local Holiday Inn, Mottaki noticed an Israeli flag flying proudly near the entrance. An infuriated Mottaki asked that the flag be removed, but his request was denied.

Sometimes, those delicate Iranian sensitivities do win out. Last year, 2 paintings by Norway’s Haakon Gullvaag that showed an Israeli flag were removed from an exhibit in Syria. But the removal of the paintings had nothing to do with the Syrians:

The artist said the French embassy said it had concerns about a hotel near the cultural centre which normally has many Iranian guests.

“They were afraid that the Iranians would misunderstand the motifs as being Israel-friendly. Then the cultural centre claimed that some students have complained about showing the Israeli flag at all,” Gullvaag said.

Then there is the incident in 2008 when Iran was at odds with a number of other Muslim countries:

Iran has angrily dissociated itself from Arab and Islamic attempts to publicise a ground-breaking initiative offering to make peace with and recognise Israel.

Officials in Tehran are furious that the Iranian flag appeared on a full-page advert, published in The Guardian and other newspapers in the Arab world and beyond, promoting the Saudi-brokered initiative, unveiled in 2002 and re-launched at the Riyadh Arab summit last year.

I guess that means I may as well throw out my Israel-Iran friendship pin

Hat tip: The PostWest

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Daled Amos

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From YNet:

Weapons were found on an Iranian cargo plane forced to land in southeast Turkey on Saturday, Turkish media reported Tuesday.

According to reports, the arms plane left Tehran with military ammunition for Syria. Several crates containing weapons and ammunition were removed from the aircraft.

Turkish media reported that the plane was forced to land in a military airfield at the United Nations’ request following information indicating it was carrying nuclear materials. It was further reported that rocket launchers, mortars, rifles and explosive materials were found in one of the main cabinets on the plane.

(h/t Challah Hu Akbar)

Elder of Ziyon

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From Iran’s FARS News Agency:

The Iranian Red Crescent Society announced that it is ready to send relief workers to Bahrain to provide people with medical assistance after Bahraini security forces, assisted by Saudi troops, killed and injured scores of peaceful protesters on the tiny Persian Gulf island.

The secretary general of the Iranian Red Crescent Society said the organization is ready to help the Red Crescent deal with the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Bahrain.

“If we are given permission, we are ready to send our relief forces to help the Bahraini people with medical and health supplies,” Zaher Rostami told Press TV.

Wikileaks revealed that Iran had previously sent agents, missiles and other weapons to Hezbollahdisguised as medical aid.

Odds are, this is what they have in mind for Bahrain as well, as they want the mostly Shiite protesters to ultimately make Bahrain an Iranian satellite – or part of Iran.

(h/t Folderol)

Elder of Ziyon

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A website called, based in Iran, is recruiting people to be “martyrdom volunteers” to fight in Bahrain. Presumably this means suicide bombers.

The site helpfully describes the Bahraini government as being “a puppet of the Great Satan America and Israel.”

So far, according to the site, 1938 people have pledged to sacrifice their lives for the cause.

It points out how Iran has been supportive of the other Arab revolutions, no matter if the demonstrators were Shi’a or Sunni. For obvious reasons, they don’t mention supporting the people who are being shot in Syria.

(h/t O)

Elder of Ziyon

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Megilla Esther reading at Iranian UN Mission

THIS Sunday 12:00pm

At the Iranian UN Mission 633 Third Avenue at 40th Street, Manhattan
Costumes optional, graggers a necessity!

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Daled Amos

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Yet more indication of Turkey’s abandonment of its pro-Western secularist stance, including its alliance with Israel, and embrace of the Islamic world. More on this story. “Turkey refused Israeli request to intercept cargo vessel bound to Gaza Strip,” from KUNA, March 16 (thanks to Carl In Jerusalem):

GAZA, March 16 (KUNA) — Israel affirmed Wednesday that Turkey refused an Israeli request to intercept the “Victoria” cargo vessel which, according to Israeli sources, carried weapons being smuggled to help Palestinian activities in the Gaza Strip.
According to Maariv Israeli newspaper, Israel requested Ankara to intercept the cargo vessel, a request which Turkey flatly refused.

Israel had stopped the ship which was hoisting the Turkish and Liberian flags, indicated the newspaper, adding that the cargo consisted of weapons suspected to be shipped to Palestinian factions….

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The international media is uninterested in this story, busy as they are with Japan and Libya. And besides, the last thing they want to know about is an Iranian arms shipment en route to Hamas intercepted by Israel that justifies the ‘siege’ of Gaza.

The IDF spokesperson reported on Tuesday night that the ship was carrying 50 tons of weapons – about the equivalent of the Karin A, which was caught bringing weapons from Iran to the ‘Palestinian Authority’ in 2002.

And what concerns the IDF more than anything else is not the quantity but the quality of the arms they found.

Just for the record, here’s a partial list of what was found aboard the Victoria:

  • 230 mortar shells, 120 mm
  • 2,270 mortar shells, 60 mm
  • 6 C-704 anti-ship missiles
  • 2 radar systems manufactured in England
  • 2 launchers
  • 2 hydraulic mounting cranes for radar system
  • 66,960 bullets for the Kalashnikov, 7.62 millimeter

The C-704′s, pictured above are of particular concern. They’re ‘silkworm ‘ type missiles that have an effective range of 21 miles (35 kilometers). Fired from the Gaza Strip, they’re a danger not only to Israeli shipping but to Israeli ports in close proximity like Ashkelon.

Not only is Iran known to have these weapons,but identifying documents and manuals in Farsi were found aboard the Victoria as well. Just imagine what would be coming in if Israel wasn’t monitoring this situation?

In other encouraging news, the Egyptians intercepted a convoy of Iranian arms headed towards Gaza via Egypt’s southern border with Sudan. The 5 vehicle convoy carried large quantities of mortars, rocket propelled grenades, rifles and explosives.

Sudan, you’ll remember, is an Iranian ally that has a mutual defense pact with Iran.

I’d absolutely love for the cretins who keep whining about the ‘siege of Gaza’ to put their money where their fetid mouths are and to move themselves and their families into Israeli territory within rocket and mortar range for a few weeks.

I guarantee you’d see them change their attitudes quite quickly.

(h/t Carl)

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The Muqata has a summary of a Special IDF press conference for bloggers just half an hour ago that the IDF intercepted the Victoria bound from Gaza to Syria and found weapons originating from Iran.

According to Muqata’s summary:

Early this morning IDF Naval Commandos from boarded a cargo ship, “Victoria” — a German owned ship, operating by a French Company, flying under a Liberian flag. We had advance intelligence information that this vessel was carrying weapons.

We boarded the ship and the crew complied without any violence. A preliminary search revealed weapons in shipping containers. The Israeli navy is now escorting the boat to Israel where a further, detailed examination of the cargo and the ship will take place.

The ship originated from the Syrian port of Latkia, and also docked in Turkey’s Mersin Port on its way to Alexandria in Egypt. The IDF believes the weapons found on board were destined for Hamas in Gaza.

The ship’s crew apparently had no idea there were weapons in the shipping containers, and the IDF doesn’t believe that Egypt or Turkey were connected.

The current operating analysis is that Syria and Iran are the major actors, cooperating to send weapons to Hamas.

It has not yet been revealed what kinds of weapons were found on the ship.

Israel Matzav was at the conference also, and suggests a possible connection between the weapons and the Iranian ships that recently passed through the Suez Canal:

Lt. Col. Leibovich did not know whether the weapons were connected to the Iranian warships that passed through the Suez Canal three weeks ago. But given that those ships sailed to Latakia – and then went right back through the Canal – this is a distinct possibility.

More details will be forthcoming.

Anyone who recalls the incident of the Karin A, knows that this is not the first attempt to smuggle weapons to terrorists. In addition to the Karine A, there have been a number of previous instances-including incidents involving the Santorini, Abu Hassan, the Hansa India, the Monchegorsk, the Francop and Everest cargo vessels. These were involved in what were otherwise innocent transnational commercial shipping which was abused by States that sponsor terrorism, including Iran, Syria and Lebanon, all done in order to facilitate the illegal trafficking of arms to terrorist organizations in the region. Check out: Israel’s interception of arms ships – Background

If nothing else, today’s incident demonstrates the necessity for Israel’s legal blockade of Gaza, to prevent weapons being delivered to the Hamas terrorist group.

UPDATE: Here are some photos of what the IDF found aboard the Victoria:

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Daled Amos

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From the IDF:

Below is a preliminary list of weaponry and weaponry systems discovered and unloaded this morning at the Ashdod Port hidden in the cargo of the “Victoria” vessel.
  • 230 mortar shells, 120 mm
  • 2,270 mortar shells, 60 mm
  • 6 C-704 anti-ship missiles
  • 2 radar systems manufactured in England
  • 2 launchers
  • 2 hydraulic mounting cranes for radar system
  • 66,960  bullets for the Kalashnikov, 7.62 millimeter
It is important to note that the C-704 shore-to-sea missiles have a range of 35 kilometers and according to assessments, their intended destination to the Gaza Strip would have constituted a significant gain in the weapons capabilities of terror organizations operating there.

The identification document for the anti-ship missiles was in Persian and contained emblems of the Iranian government throughout. In addition, the ship left from the Syrian port of Lattakia before stopping in Turkey to make its way to Egypt. To the IDF’s understanding,  Egypt and Turkey had no prior knowledge of the weaponry.

This incident further demonstrates Iranian and Syrian involvement in strengthening and arming terror organizations in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere.

It is notable that the Iranian ships that went through the Suez Canal last month docked at the same Syrian port. Here’s how Iran’s PressTV described it:

Two Iranian ships, Khark and Alvand, docked at Syria’s Lattakia Port following their passage through the Suez Canal, a strategic international shipping route in Egypt, for the first time since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.

The 1,500-ton patrol frigate Alvand is armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, while the larger 33,000-ton supply vessel Khark has 250 crewmembers and can carry three helicopters.

Tehran has announced that the two Iranian warships in Lattakia are “on a routine and friendly visit and carry the message of peace and friendship to world countries.”

On Friday, Sayyari signed a navy cooperation deal with his Syrian counterpart General Taleb al-Barri aboard Iranian vessel Khark.

Syrian navy officials toured the two Iranian ships on the same day.

Are the 50 tons of weapons on the Victoria part of the “message of peace and friendship” that was carried by the Khark?

Elder of Ziyon

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Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, Head of the Foreign Press Branch, had a bloggers conference call at around 7:30 EST  this morning and confirmed early Tuesday morning (Israel Time), IDF fighters boarded the cargo ship Victoria at sea, then 200 miles out from Israel. (Pictures below are from the seizure).

The Victoria is a German-owned vessel, operated by a French operating company, and flying the Liberian flag. Although Lt. Col. Leibovich did not say which IDF units were involved, YNET is reporting that Shayetet 13, the Naval commando unit executed this raid. Shayetet 13 is the commando unit that was involved in the Mavi Marmara raid last year (AKA the Guerilla Floatilla),

The boarding was based upon confirmed reports that the vessel was carrying illicit arms destined for terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. The ship was off the coast of Israel, in the open waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

The ship had sailed Monday night from the Syrian port of Lattakai bound for Turkey. There, it was supposed to unload the weapons, which would be conveyed by land to Gaza. Lattakai is the same port where two Iranian war ships docked in February after traversing the Suez Canal. At the time, IDF officials raised concerns of the possibility that they were carrying weapons intended for terrorists organizations, but there was no confirmation.

“The operation was approved as necessary in accordance with government directives in light of Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz’s recommendations,” an IDF statement read. Gantz updated Defense Minister Ehud Barak about the findings on-board the vessel Tuesday morning. “The IDF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs alerted German authorities about the interception of the “Victoria” due to the German ownership of the ship,” the statement said.

In addition, the government of Liberia, whose flag it was flying under, was notified, as well as France, due to the French shipping company. The Israeli Navy has conducted numerous operations over the years against Iranian smuggling to Hamas and Hezbollah.

The IDF believes that that neither Egypt nor Turkey has any connection to the ship’s cargo. The evidence it has indicates that Syria and Iran were the main actors.

The IDF will not say yet what types of weapons they found on the ship. But the type of weapons is not important . According to Lt. Col. Leibovich, the most important fact here is that the IDF can draw direct line from Syria to the attempt to smuggle weapons into Gaza. The weapons are Iranian.

Lt. Col. Leibovich did not know whether the weapons were connected to the Iranian warships that passed through the Suez Canal three weeks ago. But this is a distinct possibility.

Lt. Col. Leibovich did not know whether the crew knew what they were carrying. But, it should be noted that nothing in the freight manifest of the Victoria revealed the true nature of the content of the ship’s containers, in violation of the relevant provisions of the International Maritime Organization’s Conventions and professional standards, including the Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Cod

The IDF did not notify anyone in advance that it was going to board the ship. The IDF informed the Germans, the French, the Liberians and the Americans only after it had opened the three containers mentioned above. Intriguingly, Lt. Col. Leibovich did not answer when asked whether the Germans and French knew what was on the ships when they were contacted.

This raises some concerns for the world community. The need to prevent arms smuggling: This attempt at smuggling large amounts of weaponry aboard the Victoria provides additional proof of Israel’s imperative need to examine all goods entering the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Israel cannot allow weapons and military equipment to reach the hands of terrorists, who will use them against its civilian population. If the world community doesn’t want to act, Israel will.

Syria and Iran will complain, but the key is that Israel acted in self-defense: The illegal smuggling of arms to the Gaza Strip poses a direct and imminent threat to the safety and security of the State of Israel and its citizens, who continue to find themselves under the unceasing attack of rocket and mortar fire originating from Gaza.

This is more evidence of Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism. Preliminary evidence indicates that the weapons aboard the ship originated in Iran, which strives to arm the Gaza Strip. Under Hamas rule, the Gaza Strip has become part of the Iranian-Syrian-Hamas axis.  Keep in mind that smuggling arms to terrorists is illegal: Such transfer of weaponry to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip constitutes a blatant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1860(2009), which calls upon Member States to intensify efforts to “prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition” to the Gaza Strip (para. 6), as well as a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1373(2001), which, inter alia, calls upon all States to refrain from the provision of any form of support to terrorist organizations and to eliminate the supply of weapons to such groups. Israel will proabably try and get a UN Resolution about this violation which has very little chance of passing the anti-Israel UN Security Council.

There is more information coming out…we will update you as it comes.


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Watch for the international outcry that ensues whenever Israel acts in its own defense. “Israel seizes ship with Iran arms for Gaza: Netanyahu,” by Jeffrey Heller for Reuters, March 14:

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli naval commandos on Tuesday seized a cargo ship in the Mediterranean carrying what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said were Iranian-supplied weapons intended for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

A military spokeswoman said Israeli forces met no resistance when they intercepted the German-owned “Victoria” some 200 miles from Israel and were taking the vessel to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Israel maintains a land and naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, a coastal enclave controlled by Hamas, an Islamist movement opposed to peace with the Jewish state.

The military said the vessel had set off from the Syrian port of Latakia and stopped in Mersin, Turkey, before heading toward Alexandria in Egypt. Turkey has no involvement in the arms shipment, the military said….

“Many weapons were found on board, intended for terrorist forces in the heart of Gaza,” Netanyahu said. “Iran is the source of the weaponry.”…

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Background on the National Iranian-American Council can be found here; Reza Aslan is a board member.

One official claimed ignorance of what the group stands for. If nothing else, that points to quite a lack of due diligence in vetting groups for events such as this, in a Senate office building of all places. “State Department senior official to attend conference of org accused of being advocate for Iranian theocracy,” by Neal Munro for the Daily Caller, March 14 (thanks to Weasel Zippers):

The State Department is sending a senior official to attend a March 15 meeting hosted by the National Iranian-American Council, which has been derided by critics as a thinly-veiled advocate for Iran’s Islamic theocracy.

Suzanne Nossel, the deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations is slated to speak at the event, titled “Answering the Iranian People’s Call for Human Rights,” which will be held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The conference’s theme matches NIAC’s strategy of promoting modest democracy measures in Iran as an alternative to policies intended to remove the theocratic government. “The case for war [against the Iranian theocracy] is already being pushed by the ‘pro-war’ elements on the Hill…. We can either remain quiet and let them work their magic OR we can promote the alternative to war by emphasizing the importance of and need for human rights,” reads a March 7 e-mail sent by Nobar Elmi, who joined NIAC in October 2010 as the director of community outreach and programming.

In practice, she wrote, “we’re taking steps to ensure human rights is on the table, by doing things such as working to ensure there is an independent U.N. human rights monitor and encouraging the dialogue.” Elmi’s e-mail was written to Peter Khan Zendran, a Rhode Island blogger who argued that NIAC’s focus on democracy might spur stronger action against the Iranian government.

Other speakers at the event include Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus. He is an original sponsor of NIAC-backed “Stand with Iranian People Act,” which would impose modest sanctions on companies that sell domestic-security gear to Iran, but also ease work by U.S.-based non-profits in Iran.

NIAC’s founder and head, Trita Parsi, declined to comment after he was alerted about The Daily Caller’s inquiries by an agency official.

The State Department official, Nossel, will attend the conference “to describe our effort to appoint a special rapporteur on Iran,” said an agency official. If approved, the rapporteur would investigate the condition of human-rights in Iran and send a report back to the U.N., the official said.

To get the rapporteur appointed, the U.S. will have to win a vote on the 47-member Human Rights Council. The council’s members now include China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, all of which are likely to oppose any such appointment. Libya was previously accepted as a member, but its membership is now suspended.

When asked if Nossel’s attendance at the NIAC event would signal a willingness to cooperate with the Iranian government, the agency official professed ignorance about NIAC. “I’m not at all familiar with the council … [and] I’m not in a position to declare whether this is or is not a front-group for the Iranian government,” he said, adding that a group fronting for Iran’s government would not likely host a meeting that is critical of that government.

The administration is trying to spotlight human-rights questions in Iran, not to suggest acceptance of the government’s policies, he said. “We’re going there to tell [NIAC] how we are looking at Iran’s human-rights record as unacceptable.”

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